29/06/2017 22:21 SAST | Updated 29/06/2017 22:21 SAST

There Is No Serious Battle Of Ideas In The ANC -- Mzukisi Qobo

The policy discussion documents which are meant to form the basis of debates at the ANC's conference lack coherence and imagination, says political analyst.

Prepositions put forward in the ANC's discussion documents ahead of its fifth policy conference lack depth, clarity and relevance in terms of the situation our country is in, according to Mzukisi Qobo.

"There is no serious battle of ideas in the party," he said. "There is a battle of candidates and ideas are used as a cover".

Qobo told HuffPost SA the policy documents "lack a coherent narrative that gives a shared sense of where we come from and where we are as a country, in politics and the economy".

"There is no common thread throughout the [nine] policy papers," he said. "One will find areas where the diagnoses of challenges in the country are accurate, but the solutions are either very vague or not credible."

'ANC's approach to policy-making is archaic'

The economic transformation discussion document, Qobo said, was developed before the ratings downgrades by S&P and later Moody's, and before the country entered a recession. "The pace of economic strain or decline is faster than the policy-making process," he said.

The manner in which the ANC approaches the policy development process, is also out of date. "This process is no longer suited for the current moment because the gestation time for policy proposals of the ANC to become government policy is very long, but a government's term in office is short," he said.

"You have the national policy conference in June, and these ideas will later need to be socialised into government among bureaucrats and policymakers," Qobo said.

There is also a disjuncture between those who write and those who have to implement policy, according to Qobo. "Much of what the papers say is dis-embedded from government and how institutional bureauracy functions. These papers are developed by people who - by and large - have no experience in how bureaucracy works and who don't themselves run government," he said.

'We need innovative, fresh ideas'

With respect to policy ideas, Qobo said South Africa needs policy that is innovative, fresh, creative and proactive. Instead, he said workable ideas underpinning innovation-led and inclusive economic development are nowhere to be found.

"The paper on international relations, for example, is full of anti-Western rhetoric, and espouses a sense of victimhood about how emerging economies and developing countries are suffering under the dominance of Western powers," he said. "There is very little about where South Africa should be in the world or domestically how we can deal with our challenges. It's as if we're stuck in the past," he said.

Qobo said much of the preoccupation of the policy conference is likely to be about the succession battle, in which Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa are widely touted as main candidates for the ANC presidency.

The party's fifth policy conference begins on Friday at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg.